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Therapists Treat Dysphoria As A Trauma Symptom, Until It’s About Sex

We must stop treating gender dysphoria differently and instead apply trauma therapies to people with any type of dysphoria.


New Zealand passed a law on Tuesday banning talk therapy, often painted as “conversion therapy,” for patients who suffer from dysphoria about their biological sex. The law specifically targets therapy aimed at children, and threatens a hefty prison sentence for those found in violation.

The move follows Monday’s announcement of regulations banning gender-related talk therapy in Israel, which threaten to take away the medical licenses of therapists who buck the ban. Canada also outlawed such counseling effective last month, not only codifying jail time for talk therapists who try to help gender-confused people, but also threatening the freedom of churches and pastors to speak the Bible’s teachings about sexuality.

Talk therapy is standard industry practice for patients with general dysphoria, so why is it being treated as something barbaric when it’s used to help patients confused about their sex?

Dysphoria and ‘Gender Dysphoria’

Things started going off the rails with the introduction of a diagnosis known as “gender dysphoria” in 2013. “Dysphoria” as a free-standing clinical term has existed for a long time. Dysphoria means a profound sense of unease or dissatisfaction: the opposite of euphoria. Dysphoria is not a mental health diagnosis on its own; it’s a symptom of something deeper and much broader than gender dysphoria.

Dysphoria, “a state of generalized unhappiness, restlessness, dissatisfaction, or frustration,” is a symptom associated with a variety of mental conditions, such as stress, anxiety, depression, and substance use disorders. To treat patients experiencing dysphoria, caring therapists and psychiatrists dig deeper for the underlying cause and create an appropriate plan to alleviate it. That’s the hallmark of effective psychological treatment.

But in 2013, the American Psychiatric Association changed all that and declared that if dysphoria is related to gender identity, then look no further, skip psychological evaluation, and proceed directly to taking cross-sex hormones and removing healthy body parts. Their fact sheet advises: “People whose gender at birth is contrary to the one they identify with will be diagnosed with gender dysphoria.”

The stated goal in using the term “gender dysphoria” was to reduce stigma of mental illness for the patients (no longer “disordered”), yet still provide a diagnosis code to satisfy the insurance companies. Consequently, in medical settings today, as soon as a patient mentions gender, most pediatricians, psychiatrists, and psychologists immediately diagnose the person with gender dysphoria and put the individual on a direct path to cross-sex hormones and mutilating surgery.

Gone are the days of counseling to explore why the person has feelings of distress. Patients who voluntarily seek counseling for negative childhood experiences discover it is almost impossible to find a psychologist who’s willing to help.

What Happened?

Thousands of people who have had feelings of hurt and confusion exploited by the transgender industry and seek restoration, as I did, write to me for help. The first questions I always ask are, “When did you (or your child) first feel (or express) gender discomfort?” “What was happening in your life up to that time?” and “Why do you want to destroy who you are?”

Many people who contact me for help either don’t remember anything happening or minimize it. We exchange a few emails where I gently ask those simple questions and the results are amazing. One hundred percent of the people have been able to pinpoint exactly what happened to trigger the urge to escape into an alternate gender identity. Their childhood events run the gamut of abuse, abandonment, and neglect.

Something always happened.

Adverse Childhood Experiences Happened

Researchers have coined a term for this: “Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).” Psychology Today says ACE “refers to a range of negative situations a child may face or witness while growing up.” These experiences include emotional, physical, or sexual abuse; emotional or physical neglect; parental separation or divorce; living in a household in which domestic violence occurs; or living in a household with an alcoholic, substance abuser, or mentally ill person.

ACEs are quite common. Almost two-thirds of the 17,000 people who filled out a confidential survey in the 1990s had experienced one or more ACEs. That startling statistic prompted scientists to begin studying the negative effects on physical, mental, and emotional health.

Adverse childhood experiences should be taken seriously because they can interfere with the normal maturation of a child’s brain and alter the brain at a deep level where the most basic needs originate and a person’s identity is formed. The CDC notes, “Toxic stress from ACEs can change brain development and affect how the body responds to stress. ACEs are linked to chronic health problems, mental illness, and substance misuse in adulthood.”

When a boy says he identifies as a girl because “I have a female brain,” perhaps it’s not because he has a female brain but that his brain development has been affected by adverse childhood experiences. This is very common among those with gender dysphoria.

Among ACEs, child sexual abuse is particularly heinous and traumatic. Most of the people who write me were sexually abused, as I was. But child sexual abuse includes more than physical touch. Noncontact assaults such as exposing children to pornography, like school districts where books with sexually explicit language are added to classroom libraries, are child sexual abuse as well and have widespread effects on innocent children.

The World Health Organization defines child sexual abuse as: “The involvement of a child in sexual activity that he or she does not fully comprehend, is unable to give informed consent to, or for which the child is not developmentally prepared and cannot give consent, or that violate the laws or social taboos of society.”

Thousands of people have written to me and can pinpoint when they first wanted to escape into an alternate identity. The timing often coincides with the ACE. For example, boys who were sexually abused may have an impulse to rid themselves of their genitalia that commenced with the abuse.

This is where the diagnosis of “gender dysphoria” does its harm and keeps people from effective care. Connecting the dots from ACE to gender distress is an elementary exercise for those willing to see. The link is obvious, except to gender specialists.

An entire population of suffering people is being led to slaughter. They are coping the best they can with feelings they can’t understand. They seek help from trained “gender professionals” whose sole purpose is to diagnose gender dysphoria and catapult them into the only permitted course of treatment: cross-sex hormones and surgeries.

Meanwhile, outside the world of gender, ACE psychologists are studying resilience and trauma and suggesting blueprints for healing that rework troubling memories and emotions from the past. They recommend seeking professional mental health care, known as talk therapy, along the way.

Surgery and hormones are never mentioned. That’s because hormones and surgery don’t help; they hurt by heaping on post-traumatic stress disorder.

Real People Suffer From Reckless Diagnosis

One of the people who have contacted me is Richard Anumene, a man in his mid-twenties called Adrian in a recent article. He reached out to me only five months after his 2021 gender “surgery,” distraught to the point of considering suicide.

While under the care of psychiatrists and psychologists for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and relentless PTSD, Richard was diagnosed with gender dysphoria and immediately prescribed cross-sex hormones and feminizing surgeries.

Richard says, “Why did they do this to me? I did not have gender dysphoria.” He still has the mental disorders, but with the added horror of a mutilated body. He sees clearly now that his dysphoria was much broader than gender: it was a symptom of his many mental illnesses. The “gender affirming” surgeries were totally unnecessary.

My story from 1983 is similar. I had suffered years of psychological distress and sought out the advice of top experts in the novel field of gender identity: a surgeon and a gender therapist. They assured me that realigning my male body to confirm my female feelings would heal my broken psyche. It didn’t. My extreme distress continued in my surgically altered body, to the point of considering suicide. Now recovered and restored to male, I offer hope to other sex-change regretters like Richard who want to find their way back.

Road to Healing

Imagine how much tragedy could be avoided if gender therapists treated people for adverse childhood experiences to begin with.

The road to healing from ACEs begins with the powerful step of identifying and accepting what happened. My true healing began as I acknowledged the emotional, physical, and sexual abuses I endured as a young child. Then, as I worked through the powerful emotions with a licensed therapist, my desire to identify as a woman dissipated and disappeared altogether.

In the case of gender, however, trans advocates falsely paint talk therapy as “barbaric” and misname it “conversion therapy.” They successfully lobby state legislatures and whole countries to ban any therapy that doesn’t affirm the alternate identity.

In true bully fashion, they smear people who support therapeutic intervention as “transphobic” and threaten to revoke medical licenses. But truly, the only “conversion therapy” in play is the gender specialists’ barbaric regimen of applying hormonal and surgical measures to “convert” people into alternate gender identities.

The evidence is clear: ACEs can “disrupt a child’s development and impact their physical, social, emotional, and cognitive well-being well into adulthood.” Therapists and clients must have the freedom to look beyond gender distress for underlying issues.

Parents should steer clear of gender clinics, enlist the services of a licensed trauma therapist, and insist on ACE treatment protocols for their children. Trauma therapists should intervene and influence the mental health profession to stop treating gender dysphoria differently and apply trauma therapies to people with any type of dysphoria.

Richard and I, along with the thousands of others who write me, should not be diagnosed with gender dysphoria. The false diagnosis almost hijacked our recoveries permanently. Richard is bringing legal action against the clinic that should have known better. The gender therapists ignored our histories, irreparably harmed our bodies, and must be held accountable.